As many readers will know, last week saw an ISI inspection, the (Covid-delayed) regular regulatory inspection to check Whitgift’s compliance with the (hundreds of) legal duties schools such as ours have. We won’t know the formal result for a while, but it seemed to go well … and inspections are, strange though it may sound, good for you. Schools are such intense places, so busy and so all-consuming, that the chance to reflect – take stock of surveys and the views of professional outsiders – can only be helpful. So, full-on week though it was – and huge thanks to all those who provided feedback and especially who oversaw the extensive provision of information – it can only count as a good one.
One problem with ‘compliance’ inspections is that the eventual report will only be factual, not judging qualitatively (that will come in a couple more years). And of course life is seldom black and white. A youngster (not Whitgiftian, but known to my family) last week came out with this gem: ‘either you win, or … you learn’. And even winning (a match or a competition or a place somewhere) is likely to come with nuances: a hard-fought win, a narrow win, an unexpected win … so that learning can and should happen all the time. One man who lives out that philosophy – that even in dark times we can learn – and helps young men particularly to reflect on life more, is my old friend Dick Moore, who spoke to the Lower Sixth on Friday. Do check out his website.
Nor does it stop. On Saturday, the latest round of masterclasses for primary school children took place, with Lower Sixth students now fully engaged in teaching these bright young minds. They will be learning about themselves as they do so, as (if we’re any good) do we continue to do throughout life. A piece from Matthew Syed in this weekend’s Sunday Times, supposedly about political scandals, was really about the importance of self- knowledge, a lesson it’s always good to remind ourselves of. Although it’s a truism, it’s true that ‘know thyself’ is not a bad maxim.